Brian Hoelscher •
Central Intermediate School • Washington, Illinois
Filling the Cracks: PLCs and Low Income Student Achievement
In 2008, our low income(free/reduced lunch) population was frequently the same list as our "at risk" students. Many times I found myself trying to track these students down to try to get them to pass classes in the third and fourth nine weeks so they could be passed on to the high school. The numbers were miserable. Only 27% of grades earned were A's. 21% B's, 25% C's 13.5% D's and 13.5% of grades were F's. I had many conversations with teachers in which they stated "I covered the material" and "I am here every morning and I have never seen him/her come in for help."
One of the first moves I made toward becoming a PLC was to outlaw the zero as a grade and mandate that teachers had to require students with less than a C to come in for reteaching and retakes. Some teachers looked at this as not making students responsible. I maintained that not making a student do an assignment and earn a zero was not holding them responsible—it was letting them off the hook for the assignment and the information.
In two years, our numbers show the results of our collaboration, our intervention and our focus on student learning: 68.6% of grades earned by our low income population were A's in 2011, 16.9% were B's, 11% were C's, 1% were D's and there were no low income students receivng F's. There has been a complete change in approach, priorities and, most importantly, achievement. These kids are not "falling through the cracks" anymore!